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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Unprofessional Sermons         203

Arnold notwithstanding, I do not think he will get anything
from'Jerusalem which he will not find better and more easily

elsewhere.   [1883,]

Wisdom

But where shall wisdom be found ?  (Job xxviii. 12).

If the writer of these words meant exactly what he said,
he had so little wisdom that he might well seek more. He
should have known that wisdom spends most of her time
crying in the streets and public-houses, and he should have
gone thither to look for her. It is written:

" Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the
streets.:

" She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the open-
ings of the gates : in the city she uttereth her words"
(Prov. i. 20, 21.)

If however he meant rather " Where shall wisdom be
regarded ? " this, again, is not a very sensible question.
People have had wisdom before them for some time, and they
may be presumed to be the best judges of their own affairs,
yet they do not generally show much regard for wisdom.
We may conclude, therefore, that they have found her less
profitable than by her own estimate she would appear to
be. This indeed is what one of the wisest men who ever
lived—the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes—definitely
concludes to be the case, when he tells his readers that they
had better not overdo either their virtue or their wisdom.
They must not, on the other hand, overdo their wickedness nor,
presumably, their ignorance, still the writer evidently thinks
that error is safer on the side of too little than of too much.*

Reflection will show that this must always have been
true, and must always remain so, for this is the side on which
error is both least disastrous and offers most place for re-
pentance. He who finds himself inconvenienced by knowing

* All things have I seen in the days of my vanity : there is a just
man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man
that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.

Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise:
why shouldest thou destroy thyself ?

Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest
thou die before thy time ? (Eccles. vii. 15, 16, 17).